When I meet with someone who has was the victim of an automobile accident, I have three questions, all of equal import.
The most basic inquiry is liability, who is at fault and how do we prove it. Often times, the liability is clear on its face, as in the case of a rear-end collision. But many times, I must engage the services of an accident reconstructionist. This expert will reconstruct the accident using all available data and evidence, including witness statements, skid marks and an examination of vehicles involved.
The second point of inquiry is the injury sustained. We examine the treatment my client received following the accident by police and fire personnel, emergency medical service technicians, and emergency room staff. My specialty is catastrophic injury cases and in those tragic circumstances the ongoing medical care, often times, courses over an individual’s life.
The third critical point of discussion during my initial meeting with a client concerns insurance coverage. One of the many services I offer my clients is the ability to identify and access sources of insurance coverage that may not be readily apparent.
If the person who was responsible for the car accident was employed and working within the scope of his employment during the time he committed the negligent act, I can access a substantial commercial automobile insurance policy.
Another little known source of insurance coverage has to do with insurance policies belonging to my clients’ blood relatives.
A few years ago I represented the family of a three-year-old boy who was killed by a drunk driver. The drunk driver had no insurance, the owner of the vehicle he was operating had no insurance, and the family of the little boy, likewise, was uninsured.
Upon further investigation, I determined that the three-year-old spent substantial time with his maternal grandmother. Under Ohio law, I am able to access his grandmother’s insurance policy if I can prove the boy established residency at his grandmother’s home. The criterion for residency involves several factors, such as receiving mail, keeping clothes at that residence, and spending substantial time in the home, for example, enjoying meals there and taking advantage of overnight accommodations.
The Ohio legislature has recently increased the state’s minimal insurance coverage requirements from $12.5k/$25k to $25k/$50k. Despite this much needed increase, these minimum coverage requirements cannot even come close to compensating a victim for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering when a bad accident happens.
Coupled with that fact is the stark reality that many drivers have no insurance whatsoever. Simply based on the number of calls I receive, it is my estimation that 20 percent of users of the public highways are uninsured.
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault, often times, the only way you can receive compensation is by utilizing your own insurance coverage. Therefore, it becomes your responsibility to make sure you and your family are protected no matter what the circumstances.
Unpreventable accidents happen all the time, but what we can prevent is having inadequate insurance coverage. The best way to make sure that you, your family, and anyone who uses your vehicle will be protected is to purchase “umbrella” coverage.
An “umbrella” policy is a specific provision that you purchase in addition to your standard auto coverage. Typically, “umbrella” coverage is for $1 million and is viewed as additional coverage to whatever policy you may have in place. It is surprisingly affordable and I recommend you call your insurance agent today to get a quote.
An “umbrella” policy is an absolutely critical investment for you and your family.